One of the most important method integral to Bhartiya shiksha is samvad between acharya and shishya. The seed to any samvad is a question asked in humility, learning as the objective.
त दि दि प णि पातेन प रि पशेन सेवया ।
उपदेक नि तेजानं जा नि नसतद रशि नः ॥
(Bhagavad Gita 4.34)
Bhagavad Gita, Puranas and Upanishads are all based on the principle of samvad.
Just around the time we closed our last academic year, in the month of March, I completed Valmiki Ramayana in my class. It was an immensely gratifying experience, thanks to Maharishi Valmiki, Lord Rama and my class children who asked many deep questions.
One such question came from a student while narrating Yuddhakanda. During the pattabhishekam (coronation) of Sri Rama, upon Indra’s (the king of demigods) suggestion, Vayu (wind god) gives an exquisitely bejewelled pearl necklace to Lord Rama, who hands it over to mother Sita. Mother Sita turns towards Hanuman and gifts the same necklace right in front of Indra and wind god to Hanuman. The student asked if Indra or the wind god didn’t feel bad that their precious gift was not retained by Sita and given away by Sita to Hanuman?
In today’s context, this is a very pertinent question. At a gross level it does look like an offense and most of us in this situation would probably feel offended too. On the contrary Indra and the wind god felt extremely happy and elated seeing Vaidehi (mother Sita) give the necklace to Hanuman.
There are two key points that need to be discussed regarding this question-
Today, if we don’t like a gift or we don’t want it, we pass it forward to someone else. Secondly our reactions to being happy or not is defined by others’ actions. Ramayana wants us to look at the subtle aspects of this katha and learn a life lesson in vyavahara.
Indra who is the king of the demigods, understands what position Hanuman plays in the life of mother Sita. It’s Hanuman who got the message of Lord Rama to Sita in Ashoka vatika, when she had lost all hopes and was being tormented by Ravana for months. It was again Hanuman who got her the news of the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. Hence, Indra also knows Sita would like to give Hanuman the most precious thing she has and witnessing Sita give the necklace was a matter of great pride for Indra and Vayu devata.
From another perspective, once a gift is given, it no longer belongs to the giver. Indra has already gifted the necklace, so logically it no longer belongs to him anymore. Secondly, what will he gain by reacting to the act of mother Sita giving the necklace to Hanuman? It is a sign of maturity to not connect one’s self-respect (maan-apamaan) with other’s acts- this deep understanding was once the bedrock of our social fabric. Hence, for example, in the bygone days, when a sva-paaki (one who eats self-cooked food only) visits someone, the host would be pleased to serve him by providing him a place to cook and provide him with ingredients for the same. It would not affect the self respect of the host, on the contrary he would be pleased to serve him in a way that pleases the guest the most, because the host had the understanding that his guest’s practice was sacred to him and an important element in his progressive journey of life. It had no connection whatsoever with the self-respect of the host. This inclusion and respect for others’ practices were an indication of a very mature society and this maturity was and always has been the strength of Bharat.
Both these virtues of giving the best that we have and not reacting to others require us to be deeply satisfied in our core, to have trust in the principle of karma and have control over our anartha of anger. Developing these virtues require us to work with the children in developing their ananda maya, vigyana maya and manomaya koshas and this is an integral part of our curriculum at Vidyakshetra – through such rich stories from our itihaasas such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, stories of exemplary kings and kingdoms of erstwhile Bharat, through samvaad with children and through our pedagogical principles intertwined in the lesson plans.
Being Bharatvasis, we must know our history and pass it onto our children. Urging all the parents to read Valmiki Ramayana at home daily along with all the family members.
Jai Sri Ram!
In your service